KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A different type of food pantry is available to people in Knoxville. It’s called the Blessing Box and unlike other pantries, it’s outdoor and open 24 hours a day.

The box is outside of Fountain City Methodist Church and anyone can grab food from the box or leave food for others to take. A member of the church, Patty McMahon, came up with the idea last January in the middle of the pandemic when things were really bleak.

“We were missing one another. We were looking for ways to reach out into the community. One morning this idea came to me which means it came not from me, but from God (I believe) the word blessing box came out. And I thought with our location between Fountain City Lake and between the park it would be a perfect place for one. I got my husband to build it,” McMahon said.

Inside the church, Pastor Don Hanshew and McMahon sort through donations that are provided by the church and community members. Since the Blessing Box started a month ago, McMahon has organized a team of volunteers to fill up the box daily. Three weeks ago, a non-church member approached the Blessing Box and filled it up.

“He shows up, opens up his box, a huge box, and fills it up. I introduce myself to him and say, ‘hey, thank you for doing this’. He said, ‘I know what it is like to be in need, I know what it’s like to be homeless and I just want to help other folks in that kind of situation.'” said Hanshew.

Every Tuesday night, more than a hundred people gather for Celebrate Recovery in the church’s gymnasium. After this service two weeks ago, one of the participants walked to the nearby Kroger store and pushed a cart to the box.

“She had a full Kroger shopping cart of food, pushed it all the way from Kroger, parked it in front of our entrance, and took it back after Celebrate Recovery and she filled this all the way up. She also knew what it was like to be in need,” said Hanshew.

“It’s just a thrill that we’ve been able to make a difference, a small difference here, for people that need a little blessing,” said McMahon on the impact of the box.

The box is restocked daily and the church says that diapers, personal hygiene items, and non-perishable food are the most in-demand items.